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Of that holy friar to whom the Mother of Christ appeared, when he was sick, and brought him three boxes of electuary

IN the above-mentioned Place of Soffiano, there was of old a Minor Friar of such great sanctity and grace, that he seemed quite Divine, and ofttimes was he rapt in God. Now, on a certain time, this friar being all absorbed in God and lifted up (for he had in a marked degree the grace of contemplation), there came unto

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him birds of divers sorts, and familiarly perched upon his shoulders, and upon his head, and upon his arms, and upon his hands; and marvellously did they sing. He was a man who loved solitude and rarely spoke; but, when anything was asked of him, he answered so courteously and wisely that he seemed rather an angel than a man; and very greatly was he given to prayer and to contemplation; and the friars held him in great reverence. Now this friar, having finished the course of his virtuous life, according to the Divine disposition, fell sick unto death, so that he could take no food; and therewithal he desired not to use any earthly medicine, but all his trust was in the heavenly Physician, Jesus Christ the Blessed, and in His Blessed Mother; by whom, through the Divine clemency, he merited to be mercifully visited and tended. Wherefore, on a time, as he lay upon his bed and prepared himself for death with all his heart and with entire devotion, the glorious Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ, appeared unto him, with marvellous splendour, in the midst of a very great multitude of angels and of holy virgins, and drew nigh unto his bed. And, as he looked upon her, he took therefrom exceeding great comfort and delight, both in soul and body, and began humbly to pray her that she would make intercession with her beloved Son that, through His merits, He would draw him forth from the prison-house of this miserable flesh. And, while yet he continued in this prayer, with many tears, the Virgin answered him, calling him by name, and said: "Doubt not, my son, for thy prayer is heard, and I am come to comfort thee a little before thou departest out of this life". Now there were, beside the Virgin Mary, three holy maidens, who carried in their hands three boxes of electuary of surpassing fragrance and sweetness. Then the glorious Virgin

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took one of those boxes and opened it, and all the house was filled with the perfume thereof; and, taking some of that electuary in a spoon, she gave it to the sick man, who, as soon as he had tasted it, felt such consolation and such sweetness that it seemed as if his soul could no longer remain within his body; wherefore he began to say: "No more, O blessed Virgin Mother most holy, O blessed physician and saviour of the human race, no more; for I may not endure such sweetness." But the kind and pitiful Mother continued to offer that electuary to the sick man, and to compel him to take it, until she had emptied all the box. Thereafter, when the first box was emptied, the Blessed Virgin took the second box, and put the spoon therein to give him that also: whereupon he lamented, saying: "O most blessed Mother of God, if, by reason of the warmth and sweetness of the first electuary, my soul is well-nigh melted altogether, how then shall I be able to endure the second? I pray thee, who art blessed above all the saints and all the angels, be pleased to give me no more thereof." Thereto the glorious Virgin Mary made answer: "Son, taste also a little of this second box"; and having given him a little of it she said: "To-day, son, thou hast taken as much as may suffice thee. Be of good cheer, son, for I will soon come back for thee and will take thee to the kingdom of my Son, which thou hast alway sought and desired." And, when she had thus spoken, she took leave of him and departed thence; and he remained so consoled and comforted through the sweetness of this confection, that he lived for divers days, satiated and strong, without any bodily food. And, after certain days, while he was merrily talking with the friars, he passed from this wretched life with great joy and gladness.

Next: Chapter XLVIII. How Friar James of Massa saw in a vision all the minor friars . . .